Monday, April 28, 2008

Support Your Local Governmental IT Staff

The IT services provided for Governmental workers is mostly "internal". This is especially true at a City level. When your taxpayer dollars are spent upgrading a park or adding a bike trail you see it and it has value. Mostly, IT dollars spent are barely seen by the taxpayers. So that's why I feel it's especially important to keep these costs to a minimum and use open source software as much as possible.

It's disheartening to see the number of people in the 23-40-ish age group that have been brainwashed all of these years that if you don't have a personal computer running MS Windows on your desktop that you being hindered. These people are so used to creating islands of data and being able to implement poor techniques that they get angered when their work flow is reviewed for movement to centralized servers. Even when we meet with people, they cannot give you exact things that have been hindered, it's more about how they feel instead of any logical conclusions. So almost weekly around here we seem to have uncomfortable meetings with people that are complaining. We spend more time having these meetings than it would take to learn a slightly different way of working. It seems the most vocal, usually have the lowest skills and just don't want to admit it. What's ironic is that in their mind, it's OK to have training classes to learn Office 2007 with its new interface, but not worth learning the differences in OpenOffice. Lately the question has been posed to these people: If we spend $500,000+ to install Office for year one, will you be able to produce work faster or reduce staff size? Of course no one can guarantee this is the case.

The point that I am making is that if you find out your local Government is using open source software, go to your commission meetings and make sure that you speak and show support for them. Tell your elected officials that you want files saved in file formats that will open without proprietary software. Tell them that purchases of these unneeded proprietary packages is taking money from your wallet and providing you with no improvement in quality of life. So many Goverment agencies have forgotten that we work for *you*!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Compiz Predefined Levels

Everyone is back in the office so we are gearing up for deploying the 3D desktop with our thin clients. One issue that we have finalized is how many settings to allow our users to configure. The ccsm utility is great, but has way too many things that they can do to make their sessions work poorly. So what I did was build 4 settings; 1 for 2d and 3 for 3D. I then created a simple GUI with Glade (image below). This will allow a diverse group of settings that are all tested and QA'd by me in advance. This lock down feature will reduce calls to our support group.